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Durée Réelle : microphysical indetermination : creative emergence

bookcoverDavid presented about his book, Bergson, Complexity and Creative Emergence, at the Deleuze Studies Conference 2016: Virtuality:Becoming:Life, Rome, Italy, 13/7/2016

Abstract: Durée Réelle : microphysical indetermination : creative emergence

Bergson argues that measurable time is an artificial concept, formed by the intrusion of space into the realm of duration. His durée reélle is a continuous reality that is tempero-spatial, in contrast to the discontinuous, spatio-temporal discrete moment that positive science casts as the real. Bergson’s is thus a philosophy of movement. Contra the pre-Socratic Eleatics, whose universe of points brought us the cinematographic reality of ‘being’ and fixity, Bergson’s universe is fluid and continuously becoming. Deleuze, in Bergsonisme, highlights the multiplicity this becoming implies, and that Bergson’s intuition philosophique, as method, must always ‘state problems and solve them in terms of time rather than of space.’ [1]

This paper addresses the role of consciousness and complexity in the creation of this moving reality. Absolute causalism, the notion that the universe is determined by fixed physical processes, with no room for conscious choice, breaks at the quantum level. Bohr described this as microphysical indetermination. Deleuze’s Bergson invites us to revisit the multiplicity of the present. Because the past no longer exists, once the present has arrived, ‘newness’ cannot exist unless it contains some corollary of ‘memory,’ by which to differentiate. The present thus arrived at, the future, if it is to be novel, must in fact be a number of possibilities, the one that will come to be the new present a future not yet chosen. In this quantum space where the possibilities of the future have not yet been reduced to the one that will come, consciousness becomes an integral part of the physical becoming of the universe.

For Bergson ‘consciousness launched into matter,’ [2] is also the starting point of life, existence both creative and emergent. Life is the gathering, ordering principle opposed to the entropy of the inert. Life, bursting forth explosively wherever it can, always seeking ever greater and more diverse forms, is, for Bergson, driven by another of his famous intuitions, the élan vital: a direction of flow like the self-organisation of living systems in complex evolutionary biology. Consciousness, moreover, ultimately seeks out its mirror, and includes, at its pinnacle, self-aware and social consciousness, in the form of humankind. We are not nature’s perfection, nor indeed the best possible outcome, let alone inevitable. But we represent, for Bergson – and for Deleuze – that which it is ultimately for, what existence is finally about, and “durations that are inferior or superior are still internal to” us. [3]

[1] Deleuze, G. (1991) Bergsonism. New York, Zone Books. p31
[2] Bergson, H (1944[1907]) Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell. New York: Random House Modern Library p199
[3] Deleuze, G. (1991) Bergsonism. New York, Zone Books. p107

Published inDavid Kreps